NEWS TIMELINE
  1. Go flight!
    Go flight!
  2. Curious looking tools
    Curious looking tools
  3. Having a laugh
    Having a laugh
  4. Goodbyes
    Goodbyes
  5. Smiles a mile wide
    Smiles a mile wide
  6. Tiafi Physio Ctr
    Tiafi Physio Ctr
November 2017

The Tiafi Community Centre in Izmir Turkey

One of CRAG's volunteers travels to Izmir Turkey every few months doing various jobs in unofficial camps where help is most needed. In the course of his last visit he worked in Tiafi for a few days doing construction work, in conjunction with The Tribe Turkey Project, who support and collaborate with the Tiafi Community Centre. The Centre was started about half a year ago and is already being used to great effect and has capacity to develop further over the coming months and years. 


Tiafi Centre has about 30 children receiving treatment on a weekly basis - all are Syrian refugees. In Turkey, there is no system where these children can access much needed treatment; they just do not fit into the system. Some of these children have deformities - scoliosis, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis - while many others are victims of bombings in Syria and have not to date received any form of physio- or psychotherapy. It is vital that these children receive treatment as soon as possible so that their condition does not deteriorate beyond the point of no return. There is a great need to raise money to buy "Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Equipment" for the physiotherapist working with these children. However, the equipment is expensive and more funds are needed.


Our volunteer on site had this to say about the centre: "I have seen the results of him [the physio] working for just two weeks with a small boy of seven that had never stood up, and during that time he started walking! His mother was ecstatic watching her son, telling us all how grateful she is for the work of the Tiafi Centre. I was near to tears watching her and her son walking around the large floor area. I decided I would do all in my power to help this project. I have seen, last week, young children brought into Tiafi for the first time by their parents, severely injured, in wheelchairs due to injuries suffered in bombings who badly needed the physiotherapist to help them get moving again. What I saw was nothing short of miracles."

To find out more about this project and donate, please visit their website:  http://www.tiafi.org/


Sanitation Conditions in Refugee Camps in Northern France

Since last year’s demolition of the infamous Calais “Jungle”, the living conditions of refugees in the area have deteriorated considerably. Last month, Ella Foggitt – a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) expert – travelled to Northern France with Help Refugees, and conducted an assessment of the area. She found that WASH provisions in Calais are “inadequate”, and in Grande-Synthe, they are “severely lacking and extremely unsatisfactory.” Read whole article 
here


October 2017

Support Child Refugees in Calais

On 24th October we are expecting a big debate in the House of Commons on the issue of unaccompanied child refugees in Calais - a year after the 'Jungle' was demolished. Across the country supporters of refugees are getting together to write to their MP and discuss how they will mark this anniversary in their local area. By JOINING A MEETING (or creating your own) you will be making sure your MP understands the issue and attends the debate. The more events that take place the more likely the UK Government will provide a safe and legal route to sanctuary for at risk child refugees in Calais.

If you can't find a meeting near you please sign up to host your own. It's really easy, the Safe Passage Team will provide you with all the information you need to host your meeting, find people in your area as well as a letter writing guide 
here .



September 28, 2017

September 2017 Report from Positive Action in Housing for Refugees: 

In 2016-17, we saw a trebling in the numbers of destitute refugee families and individuals referred to us for shelter. We also saw a doubling in the numbers of destitute families with children.  We have arranged over 41,500 nights of shelter since the height of the refugee crisis in September 2015. The need for refugee hosting has never been greater.
 
At any one time, the Room for Refugees Programme has between 65 and 75 families hosting refugee families, individuals or young people in Glasgow, London and Edinburgh. Each household has a dedicated caseworker from a local refugee or humanitarian aid organisation who reviews progress regularly. We operate strict safety criteria built on 15 years’ experience of refugee hosting, it is regularly reviewed, and this makes the programme highly reputable and trusted. The positive stories we get hear because of families coming forward to host are awe-inspiring.
 
We do need more hosts in your area and I would be very much obliged if you would encourage your friends, family and social networks to pledge a spare room by completing this online form:  https://paih.typeform.com/to/dl4g60?

If you are unsure and just want to talk to someone who is already hosting, please feel free to contact the web administator who has personal experience as a host. Or contact PAIH directly through the following channels:

www.positiveactionh.org
www.roomforrefugees.com
f: www.facebook.com/positiveactionh
tw: @positiveactionh
tel 0141 353 2220


There is also a desperate need for blankets and bedding. Please go to our donations page to find out how you can help.



September 3rd - A special celebration - CRAG's 2nd Birthday!

Cumbria’s efforts to support refugees started in August 2015, when Hazel and Gram first headed to The Jungle in Calais with a van full of supplies. In early September, the tragic death of yet another child in the Mediterranean forced people all over Europe to say: Enough is Enough! This cannot keep happening on our shores.

The Calais Action Carlisle Facebook group (NKA Carlisle Refugee Action Group or CRAG) formed at 7pm on 3rd September 2015 to see if we could garner another half a vanload for another trip. By midnight, messages were flying between 100 new members, all keen to help our near-neighbours in Calais. In the two years since then our group (with the support of Sustainable Carlisle and Carlisle One World Centre COWC) exceeded 15 tonnes of supplies that were sent to France and Greece.

CRAG volunteers have also worked tirelessly to distrubte the goods and build shelters in situ throughout the camps of Calais, Dunkirk, Paris and Turkey. 
Caravans have also been procured, kitted out and delivered to camps throughout Europe and Asia. We have supported the Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre, who offered a safe space to develop understanding and language skills from early-2016 to mid-2017 before it was closed permanently due to a devasting fire. Not to mention the many CRAG volunteers who - in additionn to sorting, packing and building shelters - also raised money, taught and campaiged for refugees everywhere. CRAG has also recently started a "welcomers" volunteer group who support newly-arrived refugee families with friendship, advice, language skills and accomodations. All of this has come through your efforts along a coalition of other local refugee support groups with whom we have networked over the past two years.

Your money has not only been spent on transporting goods and building shelters where they are needed, it has also been used to support refugees in other ways through our refugee network. As it is CRAG's birthday, it should be a time of giving. Your generous donations mean that £350 each is being sent to three refugee charity groups with whom we are assoiated. These groups are:

  1. Mobile Refugee Support ( https://www.facebook.com/MobileRefugeeSupport/ ) volunteers have been supporting those now forced to take cover in woodlands, helping them with shelter, food and crucially phone-charging to allow people to keep in touch with their families or to seek advice about their situation.

  2. Paris Refugee Ground Support ( https://www.facebook.com/PRGS.team/ ), are there for those not able to access the official camps in Paris. Long-term volunteers are passionate in their practical support of those on the streets, waiting for a chance to seek asylum in France.

  3. Help Refugees ( https://helprefugees.org.uk ) charity helps all over the world. They have rigorous checks in place to ensure they are helping the right people and ensure they prioritise the most vulnerable, such as minors stuck in Calais. We would encourage you to “like” these groups, follow their work and maybe add an extra birthday donation on their pages. Or donate directly to CRAG through our donation page. 

  • The Tribe Turkey  https://www.facebook.com/thetribeturkey/  work to improve the conditions of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees settling in Turkey, with a unique approach trying to bring a semblance of normal life to displaced people as well as helping them meet their most basic needs such as firewood and sanitation.

If you would like to join our mailing list or volunteer with us in any capacity, send us an email to cragcontact@gmail.com . We are currently looking for a volunteer who can help with financial management as well as other committee roles. We can put you in touch with the best organisations working in France and the Middle East if you would like to work on the frontline, and we have various roles supporting refugees locally. 

Two years ago there were about 2,500 refugees stuck in Northern France. Over the past two years the population swelled, reaching 10,000 at one point. Now, there are approximately 1,000 people stuck in Northern France and a further 1,500 in Paris. The need in France is as great as it was when that incredible energy, borne out of compassion and a determination to support those our government told us must not be helped, first materialised. Whether you have volunteered, organised or donated, thank you all for being part of Cumbria’s efforts to support refugees...but we’re not done yet.


July 2017

Greece

On 31st July, EU funding is being withdrawn from Greece. Sixty-two thousand (62,000) refugees still stuck there will lose access to vital services being provided by larger NGOs if the Greek government doesn't renew their budgets. Two thousand two hundred and fifty (2,250) unaccompanied children across Greece are in need of safe shelter, but there are only 1,270 shelter spaces available. The situation, particularly on the Greek islands where 2,000 people arrived last month, is at breaking point.

Refugee InfoBus Appeal on Chios: The Refugee Info Bus works on the very border of Europe; quite literally meeting people off the boat as they flee from countries torn apart by war and terrorism. The information provision here is so poor; that people are failing interviews that would allow them access to European protection and asylum if they had been properly informed about the complicated legal system they were entering. Read more here
 

Update on High Court ruling on Dubs Amendment



Amnesty UK joins forces with CRAG 

Amnesty Uk has joined forces with Carlisle Refugee Action Group and the Allerdale Amnesty Group to offer a welcome to the refugees who are arriving in Cumbria Community and make them feel welcome. As part of Refugee Week, Amnesty UK encourages community groups to come together for a photo at a local landmark in support of refugees and the important contribution they make to every day life. Amnesty wants to encourage local communities to work together to create a more welcoming environment for people fleeing conflict and persecution, while calling on the government to open up more safe and legal routes for refugees to reach safety in the UK.

The Cumbrian groups decided to take the picture at Carlisle Castle on Saturday. Adrienne Gill, of CRAG, said it was a nice event, particularly as the sun came out.  She believes it is critically important to keep pushing the message that refugees are welcome, 
"especially in light of the last few weeks where fear and suspicious has been heightened once again after the recent attacks," she said. "It is important to keep getting that message across - refugees are vulnerable people and they need to be welcomed in a safe environment. CRAG is working to make sure that Carlisle and north Cumbria are a welcoming place for refugees through a number of projects we run locally and overseas."

The theme at the upcoming Unity Festival on Saturday, July 8, in Carlisle city centre is connecting communities and diversity.  The day will be a celebration of diversity and communities in Carlisle with food, music and film from all over the world.


June 2017

"Are human rights and international law for everyone or just for some?"

Back in March, the mayor of Calais - Natacha Bouchart - implemented policies “to prevent the distribution of meals to migrants”. Since then, officials have obstructed attempts by local charities from giving food and water to refugees. Food distribution volunteers said they had been forced to operate in secret because of the heightened police presence. Secours Catholique, a charity whose mission is to end hunger and homelessness in France, launched a legal action against Natacha Bouchart and successfully overturned her anti-humanitarian policies through the highest court of law in France. However, on June 2, 2017 - during a severe heat wave in France - Secours Catholique and other volunteers were prevented by French police (CRS) from distributing food and water to appriximately 150 thirsty and starving newly-arrived refugees in Calais. They had no jurisdiction to intervene. Volunteers were even blocked from giving water to children who were suffering from severe dehydration, hunger and exposure. This news is being widely censured in both England and France, but information is leaking through independent channels. 


On June 3rd, there was a powerful meeting amongst refugee community leaders in Calais with a UN representative in attendance (a rare event, as the French have not recognised the area as an official ‘refugee camp’). A member of Help Refugees organisation reported back with some poignant comments and questions posed by refugees. To read the report CLICK


Update on Calais Court Case

Since the CRS police blocked charity aid in Calais and elsewhere in France, despite the ruling that they had a right to do so, the issue was escalated to the Administrative Tribunal of Lille, who ruled that city authorities (Mayor's Office, Prefecture and Conseil Departamental) must provide the following within 10 days or face fines:

  • - showers, toilets and potable water within reachable distance 
  • - reinforced daily state outreach for unaccompanied minors to access protection...
  • - departures to CAOs (accommodation centres) for refugees in Calais
  • - food distribution should not be hindered

A respite and accommodation centre cannot be opened in Calais, however, no mention was made in relation to allegations of state violence. The judge remarked that minors specifically did not have sufficient access to information, which has deterred them from entering protection.

The City authorities will have to report on their progress within 15 days, and the report will be sent to the Defender of Human Rights who has stood on the side of refugees and NGOs demanding the protection of their rights.

While this ruling is more favourable to aid organisations who are acting on behalf of the hundreds of homeless refugees in the area, the city authorities are likely to appeal to the Conseil d'Etat, France's Administrative Supreme Court.


Lord Dubs Amendment

On 20 June 2017, the High Court will hear Help Refugees’ challenge to the legality of the Government’s implementation and closure of the Dubs Scheme. Section 67 Immigration Act 2016 (‘the Dubs Amendment’) requires the Government to make arrangements ‘as soon as possible’ after the passing of the Immigration Act 2016 to relocate and support unaccompanied refugee children from Europe.To read the full report on the issues surrounding this challengeCLICK



Closure of Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre

Due to the fire on the 13th of April that ravaged the informal refugee camp at Dunkirk, the French government has decided to close down the camp permanently. More than 1500 refugees were bused to undisclosed locations, though many chose not to board the buses and have ended up sleeping rough. The Dunkirk Adult Learning Centre for refugees, whom CRAG supported with donations, has now been dismantled and is closed. 


May 2017

Crag volunteers have been busy with ongoing support to refugees in Northern France, Turkey and closer to home where language support volunteers and befrienders have been recruited to help the families from Syria who are coming to live in Cumbria. One of our members has taken in a refugee into their home and is finding the experience rich and rewarding, and the community has embraced the newcomer with open arms.


The Diverse Cumbria Awards 2016 presented CRAG with a Special Mentions Award on the evening of Friday May the 19th. The Awards, created by Ben Vollans, are the first of their kind in Cumbria and were set up to celebrate and award those going above and beyond in their work for Equality and Diversity. Representation from a huge number of local organisations attended the evening to celebrate the winners of the 5 categories. To find out more about the Diverse Cumbria Awards, CLICK.

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​PRIOR MONTHS